How to Pray Without Ceasing: Talking to God As to a Friend

Don’t Just Talk to Yourself, Talk to GOD!

Many people admit to talking to themselves from time to time.  Most of us know what that’s like. It’s just, simply, when we are deep in thought and eventually, we just speak those thoughts out loud.  Well, have you ever considered the fact that GOD is always with us too, and that we can talk to Him at ANY time!?  Most of us are familiar with briefly praying when we first wake up in the morning, praying before meals, at devotion time or family worship time, and as we get ready to go to sleep at night.  However, we must also cultivate a state of prayerfulness where we pour our hearts out to God THROUGHOUT the day, whenever opportunities present themselves to bring matters to God.

Over the years, I have struggled with the idea of prayer; because, sometimes I feel as if I must speak very eloquently.  I’ve heard SO many very profound, heartwarming prayers. 

You know, SOME people just have what I call… the GIFT of prayer.  They can change the atmosphere and take you to the very THRONE ROOM of God with their prayers.  They’re able to touch the heart of God and Man.  They have a gift from the Lord.  So, sometimes I feel like I’m not doing prayer justice with my little, simplistic words.

I also remember struggling with kneeling beside my bed at night to say my prayers, because I found it to be VERY uncomfortable for my knees.  As a result, I didn’t tend to stay on my knees very long.  So, my “on-the-knees” prayers would tend to be quite short and simple and without much substance per se.  In fact, they become quite predictable.  Three or four quick sentences, and I was DONE!

That all changed when I decided to think “outside of the box.” I realized that I automatically had a time limit on my prayers, as soon as I knelt beside my bed.  The clock was TICKING!  However, when I decided that I would talk to God every night until I fell asleep, that made ALL the difference in the world!  You see, instead of just thinking about all the things that I need to do tomorrow, I just purposely talk to God about it.  I just have a conversation with God about the things that are on my mind and ask him for direction regarding what I should do.

“I have SO many things that I need to do, Lord.  So, where should I start?  What should I do tomorrow?  Please help me prioritize.”  

I begin talking to God about things that I’m concerned about, just giving those things to Him as I prepare to rest.  Now, this doesn’t work for anyone who’s like my husband.  He falls asleep as SOON as his head hits the pillow.  He is an early morning person. On the other hand, it takes me a little while to fall asleep and that’s why, for me, this prayer time tends to have more depth and substance than any other time of day.  It’s a quiet time and a reflective time…SO peaceful!  I love it!  When I started this practice, I immediately started to feel SO much closer to God!  I felt my spiritual life growing, significantly, as I practiced including God in ALL aspects of my daily life.

Nevertheless, sometimes I STILL struggle to feel like my prayer life is what it NEEDS to be.  Sometimes, I just feel inadequate, like I just don’t measure up.  I recently talked to God about this ongoing concern.  Soon afterward, I felt in my spirit that I was looking at this ALL wrong.  I’m sure you’ve heard, as I have, that “PRAYER is just talking to God as to a friend.”  While inquiring of God, I was reminded of that definition and the fact that that’s exactly what I do when I pray.  So, that means that my prayers ARE acceptable to GOD… just as they are.  They may not measure up to MAN’S standards or expectations, because they are not the most eloquent words; but, it certainly is a conversation that I’m having with MY God.  In fact, I am acknowledging who God is in my life AND seeking His input and direction for me.

So, let me share a few other times that I have found to pray.  

When we are traveling and notice that there has been an accident, I used to just think, “Oh no!  That is so unfortunate” OR “That’s horrible!  I hope everybody is OK!”  However, the Lord prompted me to start praying for them right away, on the spot!  In those moments of awareness and concern, pray to the One who can do something about the situation.  

So now, when I see that there has been an accident, I am reminded to pray.  I just quietly whisper a prayer to God:

“Lord, please be with those involved in this accident and their families.  I pray that they will be Ok and that they receive the care that they need to recover.” 

This is the way that I have started to look at those prayer opportunities that often go missed because we are having a natural reaction or response to what is going on.  When we find that our emotions and concern have been stirred, that is the perfect time to pray!  Using that emotional cue to remind us of prayer becomes quite a powerful tool in our walk with the Lord and in our victory over the struggles and situations that we encounter.

I even tell my 19-year-old son, Samuel, that when he gets anxious and concerned about the college classes that he’s taking or all the classwork that he has to do, that just means that he has something else to pray about.  Instead of us just worrying and complaining about these kinds of things, we need to recognize them as opportunities to pray, so that God can give us wisdom.  We want to include God in our DAILY lives, so that he can move and work on our behalf. 

You see, I believe in maintaining “God Awareness” or “God Focus,” which I wrote a blog post about recently. The Lord brought that to my mind as he showed me what it means to “pray without ceasing,” according to I Thessalonians 5:17. Praying without ceasing is what I have learned to continue cultivating, nurturing, and practicing in my day-to-day life.  Since, I practice “God awareness,” keeping in mind that he is there ALL the time, then I’m often in a spirit of prayer.  For example, as I’m driving, things may come to mind, and I’ll talk to God about it at THAT moment.  Sometimes, it’s just a few words.  Sometimes, I go into a complete therapy session, unloading all the burdens of my heart to God.  This is truly what God desires of us. “In all thy ways acknowledge him and he shall direct thy path.” Proverbs 3:6

So, I’m beginning to understand that I need to embrace MY prayer life with God without feeling inadequate or comparing it to someone else’s.  I realize that my prayer life is sufficient, because my prayers are SINCERE, and I have a relationship with God.  As we develop an ongoing dialogue with God THROUGHOUT our day, we need to be willing to LISTEN to his voice; because, God doesn’t JUST want to hear from US.  He also wants US to obey HIS voice.

Without obedience, it’s pointless to say that we are “followers of Christ” or that we are Christian or to even pray to God.  Why?  Because our prayer, the very act of praying, is an understanding that we are totally dependent on God and that WE are in NEED of His grace, mercy, wisdom, strength, protection, and guidance! 

Prayer is not just something that we do to check it off the list.  So, when we pray to God we should expect to hear FROM God at some point, in some way.  God sometimes talks to us in that same session of prayer, but often he may talk to us at another time.  It may also vary greatly from person to person.  In your quiet silence, He may talk to you as you work in your garden.  He may talk to you in the shower.  He may talk to you in times of stillness and solitude, in answer to your prayers and to give you direction regarding the way in which you should go.  So, we should LISTEN for God’s voice.  We should always be willing and ready to listen to God.  We should have times in our day when we just simply turn off ALL distractions.  The more that we listen to God, and (more importantly) DO what He has told us to do, the more he speaks to us and pours into us.

When we walk in the wisdom that He gives, He gives us more wisdom!  He gives us more victory! He gives us more answers to our prayers, because HE KNOWS we are listening!

So, instead of comparing our prayers to the eloquent prayers of others.  Let’s focus on our own PERSONAL relationship with God.  Let’s talk to God throughout our day, as to a friend, and then DO what he tells us to do.

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